5 Foods I Grew Tired of Buying, and How I Quit
Everyone who cares about frugality understands that it often involves becoming more self-reliant. In the course of an average day, consumers spend money on food items that can’t be produced at home, and require us to spend money to obtain them. On the flipside, there are other things that could be made at home, but with greater time and expense than it is worth. The following is a list of kitchen staples that I quit buying, and how I’ve made it work.
Bread – This is a new one for me. Our family of six easily tears through 3 loaves of bread a week. This is over $400 a year in bread expense alone. Baking your own bread isn’t difficult, and it only seems daunting the first time you do it. After you get the hang of it, you can work it into your schedule without any adjustment (after all, most of the time spent baking bread is in letting it rise.) For a super tutorial that any dummy can follow, check out this link that includes tips for getting the best price on your baking supplies. (For a fresh-baked perspective on bread, see Myscha and Philip’s articles.)
Eggs – Not everyone is in the position to raise chickens. If you happen to have the space, however, and it is legal where you live, a few free-range laying hens are really easy to care for. They are great for pest control (some even eat mice) and have pleasant dispositions. For a minimal initial investment, you can keep a flow of fresh eggs coming year-round. We easily consume the eggs that our small flock produces, and they outshine the store-bought competition. (For more Wise Bread commentary, see Myscha and Philip’s other articles.)
Hot cocoa mix – A box of cocoa mix can go on sale as low as 99 cents during the year. If you drink as much as our family does, however, this is a terrible deal compared to making your own. I have tried all kinds of homemade mixes consisting mainly of powdered milk, sweetener, and cocoa, but Trent’s recipe at the Simple Dollar takes the cake!
Gravies, broths, and cream soups – If I totaled up what I would spend on these three items in proportion to the rest of my grocery bill, they seem daunting at times. This is really ridiculous considering that they are all made from the same thing – meat stock, water or milk, and thickener. If you aren’t up to making your own homemade stock from chicken or beef, bouillon can make a fine substitute. Just remember these simple kitchen equations for instant savings:
Bouillon + water = broth
Bouillon + water + thickener (flour or cornstarch) = gravy
Bouillon + milk + even more thickener and some heavy stirring = cream soup
Dog Food – If the pet food recalls weren’t enough to steer you towards making your own dog food, maybe the cost-savings would. Your lone Chihuahua may not eat enough to warrant grinding your own chow, but my two Great Pyrenees pups are destined to reach 100 pounds by adulthood. The premium bag of 20-lb kibble from our supply store costs over $15, and this is gone in a week! The staggering bill caused me to re-examine how I could feed these hounds on a budget. The homemade dog food is easy to prepare once a week in a food processor with scraps of high-quality trimmed meats, rice, and veggies. Wondering where my pie pumpkins ended up after October? They made great puppy food! (An additional recipe that works well can be found here.)
These are five food items that were worth it for me to find a way to avoid purchasing. Every household will be different, however, and if you don’t spend much in these areas, it may not work for you. With all the free information available, you could possibly find other homemade foodstuffs that will give you maximum savings. Already doing so? Tell us about it… we’d love to hear how you do it!